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AVIGNON

Avignon is the capital of the French department of Vaucluse in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and is on the banks of the Rhône river. Avignon was one of the European Cities of Culture in 2000 and its historical centre has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Prior to the latter's annexation by France in 1791, Avignon was the papal capital of the independent Comtat Venaissin.


Avignon is famous as the city to which the Popes fled when leaving the corruption of Rome in the 14th century. Le Palais des Papes (Palace of Popes) which was built then is the world's largest Gothic building. It was largely emptied over the centuries, and its vast stone rooms are filled with little more than old frescos, but it is still an imposing building. The Ramparts themselves were erected to keep the plague and invaders out during the turbulent Middle Ages, when Avignon belonged to the papacy and not the French crown.


Avignon has its share of museums, ranging from modern art museums to museums housing artefacts from the Roman and pre-Roman days. The old city centre is not very big and can be easily explored on foot. An automatic bike sharing scheme called Vélopop' allows you to ride along. Smartcard needed.


- Wikivoyage

Image by Mesut Kaya

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